Okay, I’m going to start straight off by saying that Aquaman was a pleasant surprise. If you’ve read any of my other reviews then you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of the DC’s big screen efforts so far. Biggest complaint? They lack a sense of fun. I get that superhero movies don’t have to be a laugh a minute, but there’s just something in everything they’ve done so far; it’s not just humour – it’s heart. Character and heart.
Aquaman is still lacking in character development (and a little in the script), but on the whole, the film works … just about.
Okay, this is was a swings and roundabouts sort of a deal for me. They got a lot of stuff right, but I still think they have a way to go before they match the sheer awesomeness of Guardians of the Galaxy or The Age Of Ultron.
Okay, so what did they get right. Well, first off: Gal Gadot. This was a courageous and inspired piece of casting. I can imagine the punch-ups around the water cooler when someone suggested putting a near-unknown in the armoured corset, rather than someone with a more Johanssenesque quality. Well, the gamble paid off; Gadot brings a sort of naive, willful determination to the role, which was a welcome relief from the square-jawed stoicism we saw in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
It’s no secret: I’m not a huge fan of DC Comics, what with their godlike superheroes, non-existent cities and poor run of films … I’ ve pretty much steered clear of their ouput for years. But I’m an impulse buyer, which is expensive, but occasionally nets a pleasant surprise. And this year’s surprise was Batman. I bought one while I was on holiday (can’t even think why I went for that when there was a whole stack of unread Guardians of the Galaxy in the app next door), and now I’m wondering if I’ve been missing something for all these years. I’m also wondering why if their comics can be this good, there films are so bad. It’s no surprise that when given the choice for a holiday impulse buy, I went for the comics featuring heroes with no powers at all: Batman (four issues) and Nightwing (Batman Junior, one issue). I’m still avoiding Superman and his family of immortal, unbeatable invulnerablesBut what about Batman. Right, I don’t mind a bit of darkness, but for me, Batman was always too dark, too introspective, too dull. Since the DC reset, things seem to have changed. Yes, he’s still dark, still introspective, but now we’re getting more Bruce Wayne and more of his relationship with Alfred, more of his life outside of the Batcave. We’ve got light (my God, the sun occasionally shines in Gotham), we’ve got humour (Alfred is delivering some very dry one-liners), we’ve got humanity. And there were a few moments that were genuinely heartbreaking. Here we have a superhero who is painfully aware that what he does will eventually kill him; no two ways about it.
We’ve got a much better comic, simply by remembering that people are not one thing all of the time.
I didn’t like Nightwing as much, but still, it was a lot better than I was expecting (it’s early days), and the artwork in both books is absolutely superb. I’m going to stick with both, and who knows, I may become a DC fan after all; I’m part way there already. I just hope that the improvements in the comics filter through to the screen.